Skip to content

November 1 Kicks Off NaNoWriMo

By Michele T. Berger

You’ve heard the buzz.

It’s almost here.

This is the time of year that many intrepid writers talk about gearing up for the most intense, disciplined, and fun writing marathon of the year.

Writers all around the world are are preparing outlines, character sketches, and plot arcs.

But they aren’t writing yet.

They are talking to partners, spouses, and significant others asking for their support and encouragement (and possibly a break from some household tasks) during November.

“For what?” the concerned partner asks.

They grin and say, “NaNoWriMo.”

November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Amateur and professional writers sign up to write 50,000 words, a short novel, during the month. That is roughly 1,667 words a day.

It’s an insane idea, but one that since 1999 has enticed aspiring writers, lawyers, fashion designers, clerks, nurses, and graduate students to put their fingers, friends, and nerves to the test to produce a first draft of a novel. The only rule is that the writer must begin writing their potential novel on Nov. 1 with new material. A writer can outline as much as they wish beforehand, but they must do the actual writing during Nov. 1-30. No old projects welcome. NaNoWriMo is for fresh, wild, and fast writing.

Origins of NaNoWriMo
Close to eighteen years ago, in San Francisco, a group of twenty-one writers came together to challenge one another to do “binge writing” to see if they could produce a draft of a novel in a month. They could and had a lot of fun (and imbibed a lot of caffeine) in the process.

Thus a creative movement was born and a nonprofit created. The event has become a worldwide phenomenon.

In 2016, 928 volunteer Municipal Liaisons supported 445,179 participants on six continents.

Every year, they partner with hundreds of volunteers with their local libraries, bookstores, and community centers.

Of particular note is the organization’s commitment to fostering young writers. They sponsor the Young Writer’s Program (for writers seventeen and under) that runs alongside NaNoWriMo where they reach tens of thousands of students and educators and also provide free classroom writing resources to kids around the world.

How do you win at NaNoWriMo?
On Nov. 30, participants upload their draft to the nonprofit (of the same name as the event), the staff validates the word count, and participants who reach 50,000 words “win” an official certificate, and of course, bragging rights. NaNoWriMo runs on an honor system. To participate is free though NaNoWriMo has attracted a number of sponsors include CreateSpace, Evernote, and Scrivener and some writer support services that also offer additional goodies for winners.

Why participate in NaNoWriMo?
What’s a great way to get past the inner critic that tends to block so many aspiring writers? To write quickly. NaNoWriMo is definitely not about perfection. It’s about daring and engaging deeply. It is about pushing past limits, fears and the dreaded, “I can’t find time to write.”

I believe that NaNoWriMo creates more possibility and wonder about the written form over a thirty-day period than at any other time during the year.

I took the NaNoWriMo challenge, loved it, and won. I wrote my daily word count, and on days that didn’t work, I wrote more on the weekends. One day, I wrote 8,000 words! That’s the kind of momentum that’s possible with NaNoWriMo.

An unexpected, but lovely outcome of participating in NaNoWriMo (and using their website): I made local and far-flung writer friends. Want to know the best way to poison someone? Wonder what a 17th-century dagger looks like or how to get a scene to work? NaNoWriMo’s extensive website houses dozens of forums that encourage writers to share knowledge with one another. Writers can also connect face to face through “home regions” with local moderators that help coordinate writing events. The Triangle has a particularly active region.

There are many success stories of writers who carefully revised their NaNoWriMo drafts and have made sales of novels (including the bestselling Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, and The Darwin Elevator by Jason Hough), short-story collections, and other kinds of publications.

But publishing is not the overall point of NaNoWriMo. It is about getting started. It’s about getting some words—any words down that then can turn into good words later.

NaNoWriMo taps into writers’ deepest desires for expression, intensity, and community.


Michele will host a NaNoWriMo launch party on Saturday night at the North Carolina Writers’ Network 2017 Fall Conference, following the Open Mic readings. Anyone planning to take part in NaNoWriMo, or anyone even mildly curious, is invited to meet for a casual, informal gathering, with some light refreshment.

MICHELE T. BERGER is a professor, writer, creativity expert, and pug-lover. Her main love is writing speculative fiction, though she also is known to write poetry and creative nonfiction, too. Her fiction has appeared in UnCommon Origins: A Collection of Gods, Monsters, Nature and Science by Fighting Monkey Press; You Don’t Say: Stories in the Second Person by Ink Monkey Press; Flying South: A Literary Journal; 100wordstory; Thing Magazine; and The Red Clay Review. Her nonfiction writing and poetry have appeared in The Chapel Hill News, Glint Literary Journal, Oracle: Fine Arts Review, Trivia: Voices of Feminism, The Feminist Wire, Ms. Magazine, Carolina Woman Magazine, Western North Carolina Woman, A Letter to My Mom (Crown Press), Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia Butler (Twelfth Planet Press) and various zines. Her sci-fi novella “Reenu-You” was recently published by Book Smugglers Press.

Portals: the Practical Journal

With an enrollment of 23,000; small classes that allow for individualized attention; and affordable tuition, Cape Fear Community College is “a major economic development partner in southeastern North Carolina.” Students either earn two years of credit toward a four-year degree or graduate CFCC with world-class workforce training and employable skills.

This same dedication to ethos and the real-world application of training can be found in Portals, the annual literary journal and arts magazine of CFCC.

Edited and produced by students and faculty in the English Department, Portals offers editorial and production training as part of the English Department’s committment to prepare students as “effective and efficient listeners, speakers, readers, writers, and critical thinkers; the enhancement of student success in other courses, jobs and careers; and the facilitation of students’ connectedness of self and others for the appreciation and understanding of diversity.”

All of the back issues are archived as PDFs for free on their website. There, you can lose yourself in stories and poetry—as well as art work—by countless emerging writers and artists.

Portals accepts previously unpublished work. They accept prose up to 2,500 words or up to two poems, fifty lines max. Given their fairly rigid formatting requirements, definitely make sure to check all the submission guidelines before submitting your work.

Submissions are open through November 30.

There are also annual awards; check back at the website for details.

Small CRAFT Warning

CRAFT Liteary JournalSelf-described as a “platform for emerging writers,” The Master’s Review is an online and print publication that offers a Fall Fiction Award (now open!) and publishes writers you may not have heard of yet—but will hear more from soon—in their New Voices section.

Now they’ve launched CRAFT, an “online literary journal which explores the art of fiction.”

CRAFT publishes new fiction every Friday. In between, they offer content that “considers and explores the elements of craft in fiction.”

Recent contributors include Elizabeth Gaffney and Michael Sheehan. Editorial musings on elements of craft include “dialogue” and “reflecting the interior.” CRAFT also announces new books each week and offers book reviews along with news round-ups from around the literary world.

Our focus is on the craft of writing and how those elements make a good story great. We are interested in fiction that shines because of its exploration of craft. On our website, we feature new and republished fiction; critical pieces on craft; exercises; craft book summaries; and much more.

They read submissions year ’round. Flash Fiction: 1,000 word max. Short Fiction: 7,000 words, max.

Click here to submit.

CRAFT’s website is They’re also on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

You can also subscribe to their newsletter through their homepage.

Before You Sign that Next Book Contract….

Got a new book contract you want someone to look over before you sign? Have a copyright question? Or maybe you’re wondering about public domain, because you’d like to use Stevie Wonder lyrics in your new novel?

Mitch Tuchman, an attorney with Morningstar Law Group, “helps copyright and trademark owners optimize the value of their intellectual property and defend their intellectual property rights.”

He’s taught at several NCWN conferences, and we often recommend him to writers who come to us with legal questions.

He focuses on three key areas:

    • Dispute Resolution
      • Including copyright ownership and infringement
    • Copyright Opinions
      • Including audio, radio, artistic works, architecture, and more
    • Negotiations/Transactions
      • Including publishing and subsidary rights agreements, servies, licenses, and more

Basically, Mitch gets paid to think about all the things that you, as a writer, don’t really want to think too much about. All that legalese, all that “who owns what and who gets paid when,” Mitch has you covered. That way, you’re free to concentrate on the fun part: creating.

Based in Durham, and recently recognized by Best Lawyers 2018, Mitch has launched a new website:

Introducing Our Fall Conference Exhibitors: Part 4

Maybe attendees at our Fall Conference show up for the classes, but we feel they stay—and keep coming back for—the camaraderie. That’s where our exhibit hall comes in: a chance for conferencegoers to chat with literary professionals in a relaxed and casual setting.

We’ve been introducing our Fall Conference exhibitors over the past two weeks. If you missed earlier posts, here are Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Wrapping up, without further ado, alphabetically last but CERTAINLY not least:

Press 53 was founded in 2005 by Kevin Morgan Watson and quickly began earning a reputation as a quality publishing house of short fiction and poetry collections. Located in Winston-Salem, they publish up to five short fiction collections each year, including the winner of the Press 53 Award for Short Fiction. They publish up to eight poetry collections each year, including one collection by the winner of the Press 53 Award for Poetry. In July, 2010, Press 53 launched Prime Number Magazine, a free online quarterly publication of distinctive poetry and prose. Their authors include former NC poets laureate Joseph Bathanti, Cathy Smith Bowers, and Kathryn Stripling Byer and current NC poet laureate Shelby Stephenson; poets Gabrielle Brant Freeman and Maura Way; and fiction writers Quinn Dalton and Marjorie Hudson. Their Press 53 Classic Editions include reissues of beloved Tar Heel authors such as Doris Betts, John Ehle, and Guy Owen.

Prospective Press is an avid independent publisher, connecting readers to great stories by great authors. They produce books in the traditional way, a commitment to quality and a keen interest for compelling content. However, they also keep an eye to the future, watching for ways to make the reading experiences even more enjoyable and satisfying. From the Piedmont region of North Carolina, they bring a world of quality genre fiction and select nonfiction. Their nonfiction imprint connects readers with a nascent collection of enjoyable and informative books on select topics involving the body, mind, and spirit. Fiction includes High Fantasy and Urban Fantasy; Young Adult and Mythological; Science Fiction and Speculative Fiction; Paranormal and PNR; Women’s Fiction; and more. Recently, they published Draigon Weather by Paige L. Christie, who initially approached them after a Slush Pile Live! event at an NCWN Spring Conference. So, see? Networking does sometimes work! For a list of their authors, click here.

Al Manning is the regional rep for Chatham and Lee Counties and faciliates the Pittsboro Writers’ Morning Out, which meets the second Saturday of the month at 1:00 pm at Greek Kouzina, 964 East St., in Pittsboro. Al is also a Trustee of the North Carolina Writers’ Network and the sponsor of the Open Mic readings at the NCWN 2017 Fall Conference. This table will also display informational material for our many regional events throughout the state of North Carolina (and parts of Georgia), so be sure to stop by to see what’s happening in an county near you!

Wisdom House Books © Nicole Stockburger

Wisdom House Books is a publishing hybrid boutique, offering all the advantages of alternative publishing while still maintaining a standard of the highest quality production and design. They make publishing one’s manuscript easy and affordable. Their mission is to produce quality books that make a positive difference in the world. Whether a writer has an inspiring personal story, a spiritual message, a key to better health and well-being, or a new method for financial success, they will personally and professionally guide a book through the publishing process with care and integrity. They provide all the services of a major publisher, but the author retains 100 percent of the royalties and 100 percent of the selling profits. There are no “Publishing Packages” or “Levels” here. They simply offer a list of services to select based on what works best for an author’s goals and budget. For a list of Wisdom House Books authors, click here.

Pre-registration for the North Carolina Writers’ Network 2017 Fall Conference ends October 27. Click here to register.

NCWN Celebrates NC Arts Council’s 50th Anniversary

The North Carolina Writers’ Network will be one of 170 organizations across North Carolina to participate in a Statewide Arts Celebration recognizing the 50th anniversary of the North Carolina Arts Council.

Arts and cultural organizations in all 100 North Carolina counties will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the North Carolina Arts Council in October and November with music, dance, exhibitions, fall festivals, and more.

At the NCWN 2017 Fall Conference, during the Annual Banquet on Saturday, November 4, Susi H. Hamilton, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, will be the featured speaker. This dinner event will celebrate the impact of the NC Arts Council over the past half-century.

Secretary Hamilton is the ninth secretary of the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. As a state representative, she served her constituents in Brunswick and New Hanover Counties from 2011 until January 2017, focusing her efforts on economic development and ensuring children and families have a chance to succeed by encouraging companies to bring well-paying jobs to Southeastern NC, increasing funding for teachers and classrooms, and providing more healthcare options for families and underserved individuals. She is also a strong advocate for preserving Wilmington’s historic district.

About 200 arts and cultural events are slated now through late November across the state in recognition of the anniversary of the NC Arts Council.

“The ideal that founded the North Carolina Arts Council in 1967 was ‘arts for all citizens,’” said Wayne Martin, executive director of the North Carolina Arts Council. “Since that time, we’ve worked to create an expansive network of nonprofit arts organizations so that citizens can participate in the arts and artists can contribute to our state’s growth and development.”

The concentration of events will occur during the Statewide Arts Celebration in October, scheduled to coincide with Arts & Humanities Month, a national celebration of arts and humanities across the U.S.

“The celebration in October is a tribute to our collective achievements the last fifty years,” Martin said.

Events are listed on a comprehensive calendar at Information about the NCWN 2017 Fall Conference can also be found here.

To learn more about 50th anniversary activities visit Follow NC Arts Council’s 50th anniversary celebration at #NCArts50 on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Pre-registration for the NCWN 2017 Fall Conference is open through October 27.

The nonprofit North Carolina Writers’ Network is the state’s oldest and largest literary arts services organization devoted to all writers, in all genres, at all stages of development. For additional information, visit

The North Carolina Arts Council builds on our state’s longstanding love of the arts, leading the way to a more vibrant future. The Arts Council is an economic catalyst, fueling a thriving nonprofit creative sector that generates $2.12 billion in direct economic activity. The Arts Council is also a cultural pathfinder, sustaining diverse arts expression and traditions and investing in new innovative approaches to art-making. The North Carolina Arts Council has also proven to be a champion for youth by cultivating tomorrow’s creative citizens through arts education:

Introducing NCWN Fall Conference Exhibitors: Part 3

The North Carolina Writers’ Network 2017 Fall Conference runs November 3-5 at the Holiday Inn Resort in Wrightsville Beach.

We’ve been introducing our exhibitors over the past couple of couple weeks (check out Part 1 and Part 2….), and here are three more vendors you definitely don’t want to miss.

Published since 1992 by East Carolina University and the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association, the North Carolina Literary Review facilitates the annual Doris Betts Fiction Prize for the North Carolina Writers’ Network and sponsors the annual James Applewhite Poetry Prize. The most-recent issue (#26!) includes poetry by North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductees Kathryn Stripling Byer, Fred Chappell, and Robert Morgan; fiction by Michael Parker; and an essay by NC Arts Council Fellow Trace Ramsey, who won the 2016 Alex Albright Creative Nonfiction Prize, also sponsored by NCLR. A copy of NCLR’s 25th anniversary issue will be among the raffle prizes given away on the Saturday night of Fall Conference.

The North Carolina Poetry Society was founded in 1932. With more than 350 members from North Carolina and beyond, NCPS is an all-volunteer organization devoted to poets and lovers of poetry. The Poetry Society holds regular meetings four times a year in Southern Pines at the Weymouth Center for the Arts and Humanities. In addition, NCPS sponsors annual contests for adults and students, which offer cash prizes and award certificates; the annual Poet Laureate Award, judged by the state’s poet laureate; the annual Brockman-Campbell Book Award, recognizing the best book published by a North Carolina poet; and the annual Lena M. Shull Book Award, selecting for publication the best full-length unpublished poetry manuscript by a poet living in North Carolina, where the wining manuscript is published by St. Andrews University Press, and the winning poet leads a workshop and gives a reading at Poetry Day Hickory in April. In 2003, the NCPS Board of Trustees approved the establishment of the Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet Series, where three distinguished North Carolina poets are selected annually to mentor student poets in the eastern, central, and western regions of the state. Now in its 7th year, this program is thriving as a significant expansion of NCPS outreach.

Odin Law & Media strives to be “the conduit between digital and interactive media, technology and the law.” Serving the interactive media, games, and internet industries, Odin works to understand each client’s specific needs, from advertising to VR. “Through consulting and crisis communication services, [Odin] advises on rules for professional communication, media advocacy, and reputation defense. In short, Odin is a new kind of law firm. Odin assists media and technology clients with the law, and advocates for media and technology in the law.” Areas of focus include entertainment (including the literary world); video games; digital media (an umbrella term that applies to journalists publishing their stories online as much as it does to virtual reality and augmented reality developers); the internet; and crisis PR. “In each of these areas, the firm works to provide efficient service with a predictable and flat fee, whenever possible.” Based in Raleigh, this will be Odin Law & Media’s first time at NCWN’s Fall Conference, so be sure to stop by and say hello!

The North Carolina Writers’ Network 2017 Fall Conference features sessions and master classes in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, as well as lectures and panels on editing, publishing, and screenwriting. The faculty includes poets Dan Albergotti, Peter Makuck, and Michael White; fiction writers Nina de Gramont, Jason Mott, and Michele Young-Stone; and creative nonfiction writers Wendy Brenner, Hannah Dela Cruz Abrams, and Philip Gerard. Wiley Cash will give the Keynote Address. Susi H. Hamilton, secretary of the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, will be the featured guest on Saturday night when we celebrate 50 years of the NC Arts Council. Cost varies and scholarships are available.

Pre-registration is open through October 27:

Join Us for our Second Online Open Mic!

The North Carolina Writers’ Network will host our second Online Open Mic on Wednesday, October 11, at 7:00 pm. While registration is all filled up, the event is free and open to the public!

So if you want to log-on at any point on Wednesday night and listen to our distinguished readers, here’s how:

Online Open Mic II
Wednesday, October 11, 7:00 pm

Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android:

Or iPhone one-tap: 1-646-876-9923, #578762180# OR 1-669-900-6833, #578762180#

Or Telephone: 1-646-876-9923 OR 1-669-900-6833 OR 1-408-638-0968
Meeting ID: 578 762 180

Sixteen readers will read a variety of genres in five-minute time slots.

We use Zoom software to host these events, which is the same software we use to host our online classes, so if you’re at all curious about how this our Winter Series works, the Open Mic would be a great time to log-on and see what we’re all about.

We hope to see you there!

Introducing NCWN Fall Conference Exhibitors: Part 2

The North Carolina Writers’ Network 2017 Fall Conference runs November 3-5 in Wrightsville Beach. We’ll be introducing our exhibitors over the next couple weeks (if you missed Part 1, click here).

We’re excited to have so many of our friends joining us, and it helps to have friends who represent some of the best and brightest literary organizations in the state!

Here are four more exhibitors you’ll definitely want to check out during your time on the coast:

Library Partners Press, the digital publishing imprint of Wake Forest University, aims to “publish quality books (of any length and size, in both electronic and print-on-demand formats) created by Wake Forest University and North Carolina library patrons and friends.” Authors submit potential projects to the press, which are screened by one or more members of the editorial board. Recent titles include Five For Your First Five: Own Your Career and Life After College by Allison McWilliams and Adopting Grace: A Parenting Journey from Fear to Freedom by Tricia Wilson. A self-described “hybrid-indie” small press, LPP uses various print-on-demand and digital platforms to offer “publishing and distribution services to content creators looking to have their works collected and preserved and protected by libraries post-publication.”

Minerva Rising Press published books (and a literary journal) that seek to celebrate the “creativity and wisdom in every woman by giving them space to tell their stories and to tell them well.” Published three times a year, Minerva Rising Literary Journal offers a platform for “women artists to share their diverse experiences and talents in order to nurture a collective creativity.” They publish thought-provoking fiction, nonfiction, memoir, essays, poetry, and photography and art by emerging and established women writers and artists. Issues are themed (check submission guidelines), and payment is by contributor copies and a small stipend: $50 for fiction or nonfiction prose and $35 for poetry. Recent issues include writers Mary Jo Balistreri, Jessica Brophy, and Paula Martinac.

The North Carolina Arts Council is a sponsor of the NCWN 2017 Fall Conference. At the Saturday night banquet, the Arts Council will celebrate their 50th anniversary with featured speaker Susi H. Hamilton, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. Events throughout the year will celebrate a half-century of supporting the arts in the Tar Heel State, and the Arts Council is profiling fifty prominent North Carolina artists on their website as part of that celebration. The NCAC has been at the forefront of bringing arts tourism to North Carolina, publishing several guidebooks to heritage trails and designating the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area. The Arts Council also offers fellowships to artists and organizations each year. The deadline for the next Artist Fellowship grant is November 1.

The mission of the North Carolina Literary Map is to highlight the literary heritage of the state by connecting the lives and creative work of authors to real (and imaginary) geographic locations. Through the development of a searchable and browseable data-driven online map, users are able to access a database, learning tools, and cultural resources, to deepen their understanding of specific authors as well as the cultural space that shaped these literary works. The NC Literary Map also offers apps for literary tours of Asheville, Charlotte, and Greensboro, with more in the works.

Registration for the North Carolina Writers’ Network 2017 Fall Conference is now open. Click here to register!

A Sense of Permanence and Place: Pisgah Review

Pisgah National Forest covers approximately 86,700 acres in Western North Carolina and was established as one of the first national forests in the United States. It was also the site of the country’s first forestry school.

Very much rooted in its sense of history and place, Pisgah Review publishes two issues a year out of Brevard College.

The most-recent issue includes Tina Barr, David Joy, and Wendell Mayo; past issues have featured writers such as Ron Rash, Steve Almond, Christiana Langenburg, Gary Fincke, and Phillip Gardener.

The magazine is extremely upfront about what they’re looking for, which is a breath of fresh air in an often obscured and impenetrable publishing landscape. Pisgah Review seeks:

Ethnic/multicultural, experimental, literary, mainstream. Special interests: stories rooted in the theme of place—physical, psychological, or spiritual. Does not want genre fiction or inspirational stories…The journal does give a small preference to work that is based evocatively on place, but we will look at any work of quality.

They receive up to 150 submissions a month (!) and accept 12-15 submissions a year. These are pretty common numbers for established literary journals, but it’s sobering to see the stats in print.

They take fiction and creative nonfiction between 2,000 and 7,500 words, although the average length is around 4,000. They also publish flash, or “short shorts,” up to 1,000 words.

Poetry: 3-5 poems per submission.

If you feel like you have something that would be a fit, they take submissions year ’round. You can send your submission to Jubal Tiner, Editor, at, at least until their submission manager is up and running again!

As always, you’re encouraged to subscribe or check out a back issue. Subscriptions are $12 for one year or $22 for two, and single back issues are $7.

You can visit Pisgah Review at